although mario kart 7 was released only a few months ago, i’m still catching up on the last few entries in the series. the next one up for me was mario kart DS. the game got rave reviews upon its release six years ago, and it does offer some new features. first off, the game introduces wi-fi races and battles, neither of which particularly interest me, although the emphasis on snaking in this game apparently makes that experience very uneven. missions were a mild diversion, although they got rather repetitive, and it annoys me that full mastery of snaking, which i consider to be an optional technique since it’s never mentioned anywhere in the game or its manual, is required to 3-star rank some of them. the retro cups, which include reprises of tracks from the four previous games in the series, were a great addition and have since become a series staple, although only having 3 laps for the SNES tracks often made them feel more frustrating than they could’ve been since the idiosyncratic brevity of those races gives you little room for error. the game also introduces a new roster of karts to choose from with three new stats — handling, drift, and items — which adds some variety.
in terms of the “difficulty”, by now the frustration of last-second blue shells is par for the course. the inclusion of ranks, introduced in super circuit, definitely adds to the replayability, but i’m not into racers enough to have much interest in chasing the highest ranks. the game features the kart debut of a pair of characters, one of whom was a complete surprise, as well as a couple of new items.
despite all these additions, the game feels strongly tied to mario kart 64 since it ignores the gameplay introduced in the gamecube iteration. the new locales are enjoyable, but too many of the new tracks feel like retreads to me. it’s certainly impressive to see gamecube tracks reworked for the more-limited DS, but in terms of the core racing experience there wasn’t much that really grabbed me. on the up-side, the game did make me appreciate the new ideas introduced in the gamecube game. this one ends up ranking in the middle of my list of favorites in the series so far, and i’m hoping the wii (and 3DS) iterations provide more of a progression for the series as a whole.
zoom past these mario kart DS links:
– entry at mariowiki.com
– list of unlockables at strategywiki.org
– thorough FAQ at gamefaqs
– nice chart comparing the appearance of items throughout the series